Authorities in South Africa have moved to shore up protection of its Western Cape horse export zone around Kenilworth and Cape Town after two cases of African Horse Sickness were detected within the formally designated protection zone.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has imposed a formal containment zone around the Porterville property where two cases were confirmed in Arabian horses.
The export zone must remain free of the disease to protect the country’s equine export trade.
The department said on Friday that the cases were confirmed through testing as serotype 1 African Horse Sickness.
A containment zone with movement restrictions was notified by Western Cape State vet services four days earlier. It includes Gouda, Saron, Porterville and up to Piketberg and the Piekeniers Pass in the north of the zone.
The department said there was a two-pronged approach to the outbreak.
State officials were undertaking a census and clinical surveillance program in the containment zone, starting around the affected property and moving outwards to its borders.
Owners or their veterinarians who are informing state officials of suspect clinical cases are being visited and samples are being taken from suspect cases for testing. This includes properties outside the containment zone.
The department says there are seven properties within the containment zone where clinical signs which may be associated with the disease are present and where sampling has been performed. Results are pending.
The clinical signs seen on the affected property are mild in comparison to previous outbreaks and no deaths have occurred that have been confirmed as caused by the disease.
“We thus ask members of the public to be vigilant in their inspection of their horses in the containment area prior to riding or training them as exercising a horse with mild infection may cause the disease to progress faster than expected,” state veterinarian Dr John Grewar said.
State authorities hope to have completed their clinical surveillance and census of the current containment zone by March 21.
It is currently unknown when the containment zone and control measures will be relaxed.
Information on the containment zone can be accessed at www.elsenburg.com.